By Guillermo Garrido
Edinburgh, UK, Dec 4 (EFE).- Edinburgh’s Christmas market, dubbed Europe’s best, has flung its doors open and is back to its pre-pandemic spectacle of dazzling festive lights and seasonal activities.
“We have funfair rides, market stalls and different attractions, and these take place within a really picturesque city, so garden spaces and beneath Edinburgh castle, so we are really lucky in where we can position these things and make it really special,” Alan Thomson, the market’s director which has been named Europe’s best by National Geographic magazine, tells Efe at the foot of an enormous ferris wheel.
The main market and ferris wheel are located in the heart of the Scottish capital on Princes Street gardens next to the well known Scott monument, a 19th century tower named after Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).
“At the opening, it was fantastic, there were more than a thousand people in the first few minutes and a queue of people waiting to get in that shows how successful and popular it is,” deputy mayor of Edinburgh, Cammy Day, tells Efe.
The Christmas market had not returned to its usual pre-pandemic size until this year.
Before Covid-19 restrictions, the market hosted around 2.6 million visitors, well above Edonburgh’s population of just over half a million.
“55% of the stalls are local businesses and vendors,” Day says, of the market’s community driven nature.
The city is expected to draw in around 113.2 million pounds ($139 million) from profits linked to the festive market, according to data from the council.
Day says, the yearly market was close to falling through when the company that had been tasked with pulling the event together withdrew from the contract.
But the council managed to get Unique Assembly on board and save the Christmas market in record time.
Santa’s grotto is this year located “beneath Edinburgh castle, an amazing part of the city,” Thompson tells Efe. “Children will get to come and listen to a story-telling session from Santa Clause himself and every child gets to meet Santa and also gets a gift at the end of it as well.”
“One of the new features this year is we have a new ice rink which takes place in George street which is a very historic, grand part of the city,” Thompson says.
“People have missed it tremendously,” says the deputy mayor, who adds that Christmas and Hogmanay have been postponed in recent years due to the pandemic.
Hogmanay, the Scottish name for New Year celebrations, lasts three days, from December 30 to January 1.
It’s “the biggest street party in the world, and of course, we think, the best,” Day adds.
The celebration generates around 39.2 million pounds, according to the city council.
Edinburgh will close the year and welcome 2023 with a huge open air concert on Princes Street and its gardens with British pop duo Pet Shop Boys.EFE